Sadness turns to joy with iguana babies

Helping to save a tropical iguana from extinction is now a badge of honour worn by the team at the English countryside setting of Shuttleworth College.

The ‘land-based’ college in Old Warden offers courses on animal welfare which includes species far beyond UK farming stock.

The special unit contains a representative of every family of animal on the planet.

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So it was sad day when the team found a rare Brachylophus Fasciatus, or Fiji Banded Iguana, had died in its tropical enclosure.

But on moving the body they found three eggs buried in her terrarium home.

Using all the experience of the staff, and support of students, the eggs were hatched and are now enjoying life as they grow into Emerald green lizards.

The trio have been micro-chipped and are now on an international register as breeding stock for future conservation projects as only 6,000 exist in the wild.

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“I was like a dog with two tails when all three hatched,” said long serving animal welfare educational expert Carl Groombridge of Shuttleworth College.

“We are so very proud of our success.

“These animals are very rare and to succeed in incubating and hatching them is a tribute to our team.

“The lizards can grow up to more than 2ft long to the tip of their tail and the males are a beautiful bright green with bands of added colour.”

The creatures are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List

It is not clear if the iguanas are male or female.

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If the latter they are especially valuable for breeding and the team are thinking they might call them Kim, Kourtney and Kylie after the famous Kardashian girls.

Shuttleworth College has an international reputation for training farmers and throughout the UK as a centre for all employment link to the land.

It offers an Animal Management Foundation Degree which can be topped up to a BSc in Animal Science.

Mike Johnston Director of Shuttleworth said: “I think this is something which would impress Sir David Attenborough.

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“To think that here in our country park in the chilly UK we have contributed towards helping save an endangered species native only to some islands of Fiji.

“This is a great credit to the standard of training offered by Carl and his team.”

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